Heading for East Africa, so many questions!

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Heading for East Africa, so many questions!

Postby Patricia » Sat Mar 31, 2007 11:05 am

I am a new (and old, 55) GAp Adventurerer travelling with my mother (81), my sister (52) and my best friend (62) . We are all doing lots of research and come up with more questions than answers. We all come from different perspectives so this has been an interesting process already. Traveling solo doesn't necessarily sound so bad. Four opinionated women, three with family history---even with a pre-planned itinery and "what to bring" list sure can come up with different ideas!

Anyhow, here's a few questions:

What bag to bring???

A 36 inch duffle with wheels. Easy to roll but awkward to carry.

A bag that converts from back pack to suitcase, soft sides of course, (I packed it down the Grand Canyon years ago),

or just a single soft sided suitcase??

The 33 pound limit is a challange. We are going for 26 days and will be camping two nights and are required to bring a sleeping bag. We will be both in parks and cities. There are 14 different stops so we will be moving around quite a bit.Air travel from Phoienix to Londaon to Nairobi and back with a possible round trip from Mombasa to Nairobi at the end of our GAP tour.

What items have you brought that you could have left at home?
What did you find you needed that you didn't have?
Best shoes?
Best protection from mosquitos and bugs?
Clothing?? So many silly issues around this, trying to be practical while still vain---and the whole color thing, how important when viewing wildlife ---we will only be on "safari" (actually camping on the Serengeti ) for two days but of course we will have opportunities for animal viewing in some of the parks.

Even after signing on for the tour my sister still thinks it's too dangerous to go to Dar es Salaam. And my mother is afraid of nothing! She says anything cna happen anywhere---you can't live in fear!

My friend has given me so much information on the brutality of the conflicts plaguing Africa and the medical warnings and immunizations were a little overwhelming --- that I found myself asking , "Why are we going to Africa?"

So, I am grateful for all the wonderful blogs here and actually can't wait to go!
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Postby allisonc » Fri Apr 06, 2007 3:29 pm

Hi Patricia - I think it's absolutely wonderful that you and your family are heading to East Africa! I adore Kenya (lived there for 4 months!) - the people are so kind and the landscape is beautiful, and I have heard the same thing from friends who've been to Tanzania.

I could go on and on about Africa, and you are absolutely more than welcome to email me with more questions if you like. One important thing has to do with luggage - while I tend to overpack and depend on rolling suitcases, these would've been an absolute disaster on safari! I went to Kenya with friends in January '06 and there were people on our trip who hadn't been before, and I felt bad as they tried to wheel their luggage through the dust and dirt!

Best shoes - I wore flip flops literally the whole time I was there, but that's probably because I didn't own my Chaco sandals at the time. Flip flops aren't very practical, mostly because they're not sturdy and an acacia thorn can go right through the sole, but I found them comfortable especially when we spent long days in the car because I could take them off, plus if they got dirty, you could just through them in the sink and rinse them off. I also had a pair of trail running shoes for walks and hikes, and they were fine.

Mosquito protection - I slept with my mosquito net ALWAYS (though honestly I was more afraid of other bugs getting to me at night!) and used bugspray with 30% deet, usually only at night or in the rainy season when the mosquitoes were out in full force.

Clothes - I know what you mean about wanting to be practical but still look nice :D I am a bit scrappy though and found myself wearing old navy tank tops and a pair of pants that zipped into shorts pretty much every day, though when visiting villages or cities I wore Kenyan kikoys, which are basically large pieces of fabric worn like a sarong (you can buy these anywhere- even at Jomo Kenyatta airport, and they're cool and comfortable!). I did bring a dress last time, and it was black, which seems to be one of the more practical colors given all the dust!

I hope this helps! Please feel free to contact me with any more questions, and don't be nervous about traveling to East Africa! As long as you're bringing your common sense with you, you'll be fine and it will be a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Take care
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East Africa

Postby bmueller » Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:11 pm

I traveled to Kenya a year ago and it was the most wonderful experience of my life.
First I have to say that very few roads are paved so you get josseled around a lot... Try not to over pack just use a med duffle and get you some of the travel pants with the zipper to turn them into shorts. I brought way to many clothes and as they got dirty I just left them in my room - 3 pair will do you and just wash on your days that you will be staying some place for a couple nights.
I brought little trinkets for the kids that appear out in the middle of no where and also gifts for the Maasai tribes children (pencils, paper, small toys, etc.....)
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Postby MickeyMacks » Sat Apr 14, 2007 9:06 am

Hi Patricia,

From what I've ready already on these forums, 55 is definitely not "old" by G.A.P. standards! Your mom sounds like a cool lady!

My packing recommendations for outings where you're not carrying your whole backpack are: compact binoculars in a pouch you can clip to the belt of your flattish fanny pack. Inside the pouch, pack a sunblock stick, tweezers (for splinters), pre-cut pieces of moleskin (for blisters), mini-bottle of Purell (provides a cooling sensation when rubbed on neck & ankles as well as anti-bacterial for hands), a pair of cotton socks (somehow a change of socks midway through a hike is so refreshing), a few Ziploc bags in mini to medium sizes. These come in so handy for various uses you can't anticipate 'til you wish you had 'em. And of course, extra batteries and maybe an extra memory card for the digital camera which is also in a pouch clipped on your belt.

As to footwear, besides a pair of rugged hikers or walking shoes with good support, consider Crocs or similar foam-type shoes that are lightweight in your backpack, wash and dry easily with no smelliness and are comfy with socks or bare feet. They're not suitable for rocky/rough terrain because they don't have great support and an acacia thorn could pierce them, but good to give your feet a much needed break from the closed-in walking shoes. They come in all colors - my recommendation is something dust-colored, like stone or brown! :wink:
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